So, you own a property by one of Toronto’s many ravines. You are unlucky enough to be the target of an illegal dump. You wake up and find that somebody has tossed down over 5000 used tires. About 3500 have landed on city property and are the city’s responsibility to clean up, but the rest have stuck to the slope and are your problem.
You grumble — probably threaten to sue or do worse things to the person responsible — but you agree to participate in the cleanup despite the fact that it wasn’t your fault.
Then, as you have finished clearing 2000 tires off your property with another 1000 to go, you discover that somebody else has dropped off an abandoned cube van, minus rear-axel, on your property. Somebody actually hired a tow-truck to bring the abandoned van over and leave it there.
Bringing along the Toronto Star, you open up the van, find it full of sealed boxes, root around, and find:
“…dozens and dozens of life-sized replicas of a human head made of grey glass.”
This, folks, is the moment where your experience goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. I can only imagine what the property owner must be thinking, to find himself the dumping ground for the waste of more than a few individuals or businesses, and then to find this weird stuff abandoned on your doorstep. I think you start to wonder what sort of cosmic forces you’ve offended, and just what it is they’re trying to tell you.
The Star has full details of this bizarre story here. So far the mystery of the dumped glass heads remains a mystery.
Update: Friday, June 17
Of all the calls and emails, the most intriguing came from a woman who would not identify herself, but said she used to work with Lister.
> The woman said Millard Lister Sales was an importer and wholesaler of giftware that sold to retailers such as Eaton’s, Towers and The Bay. It had a warehouse in Scarborough and 40 employees at its peak, but closed down about five years ago.
An auctioneer was brought in to sell off the remaining stock, she said. “Jobbers,” wholesalers who deal in miscellaneous or leftover goods, bought up the stock.
She speculated that a jobber had had trouble selling the heads and ended up discarding them. The woman knew a lot about the origin of the heads. She said retailers bought them to display merchandise such as hats or eyeglasses. They originally came from Spain, but one was sent to a manufacturer in China, to see if they could be produced there.
“The ones from Spain were green, but they could never get the colour right in China,” she recalled.
“We got eight dozen back from China, but grey wasn’t what we wanted.”
Why Harper isn’t up for the Job
If this account (by Margaret Wente) is at all accurate, it’s no wonder the Conservatives are doing badly. Harper was invited to a meeting with the Toronto Board of Trade, a group of major big-business types who Wente describes as “furious with Paul Martin”. They asked Harper what he could do to help solve Toronto’s fiscal and economic problems. His response:
Mr. Harper told the well-disposed crowd — which included the head of Motorola Canada, the founder of the Timothy’s coffee chain and at least one senior banker — that as far as he’s concerned, they’re out of luck. Your issues aren’t federal issues, he argued. He reminded them (in case they didn’t know) that he was running for prime minister, not premier. He told them it was their own fault, for continuing to elect Liberals. Then, as the meeting drew to a close, Mr. Harper turned to an aide and asked (under his breath) if he should go around the table and shake people’s hands before he left.
Really, what more can I say?
Well, this: if this account is true (and it’s worth noting that this was an editorial commentary piece and not a true news story), then it lays bare Stephen Harper’s complete lack of political instincts, his complete lack of respect for the average Canadian voter and his complete unsuitability to be prime minister of this country.
A lot of it is about how he said what he said rather than what he said, but not just that. I myself have argued that a politically sound urban affairs strategy for the Conservatives is to knock the matter firmly back into the court of the provinces.
In doing so, however, it’s important to say something like: “I understand your problems, but it’s not the federal government’s responsibility. You need to hold your provincial governments’ feet to the fire, and I’ll help you by backing Ottawa out of key provincial jurisdictions and transferring tax points to the provinces so that they finally have the resources to get off their backsides and do something.” Doing this shows that the Conservatives respect urban problems, but are holding true to their view of a decentralized Canada that respects the balance of powers as set out by the constitution.
Harper’s answer wasn’t even close to this. It was, essentially: “pbbt! Not my problem. It’s your fault for not voting Conservative.” A response that will not only play badly in Toronto, but in Montreal, Halifax, Winnipeg and Vancouver, and to a lesser extent even Calgary and Edmonton.
It’s contempt. That’s what it is. It’s contempt for the very voters Harper needs to help defeat the Liberals. And since we’ve already experienced a lot of contempt from Paul Martin (who at least cloaks it in a veneer of listening to concerns, nodding sympathetically, and then doing nothing), we’re given one less reason to favour Harper over Martin.
Why should we vote Conservative? Because Harper would do things differently? Because Harper would listen to voter concerns and govern for all Canadians? The evidence that he’d do that is not here. And so, as corrupt the Liberals are, as tired as they are and as overdue for replacement as they are, they’re starting to look like the better choice over the Conservatives.